Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Stop, Thief! Don't Leave Me Here With...The Bank?!

I wanna tell my bank to stuff it. Actually, *I* wanna stuff it, i.e. take my money and stuff it under the mattress and never deal with a bank again.

As I've been telling anyone and everyone within yelling distance, two weeks ago, I was robbed of $21 355.46. Internet fraud. And actually, only two grand of that was mine. The rest of it was in my name but was really the bank's money. So in fact, the bank and I are both victims to the same perpetrator. Ugh, I so didn't want to be that guy's partner.

I will attempt to outline the order of events as best I remember them and as simply as possible.

1. Got an email from the "bank." Opened it cuz I'm gangsta. Banged out a quick response to the tune of, "You should phone your customers rather than email."
2. Forgot I ever replied to the email. Keep in mind, it was literally that one sentence. Not one word more. No PIN, no birth date, no password. OBVIOUSLY.
3. Got another email just like it, this time from a different bank, one that I've never stepped foot in. Alarm bells went off and I discarded it.
4. Two weeks later, woke up to my loud phone ringing (why can't home phones ring in a more melodious manner?)
5. Kept sleeping. Retrieved voicemail later. It was the bank saying, "This is not a sales call. Please call back." Uh oh.
6. Was asked whether I was doing any banking at 11 pm the night before. Flashing back to my drooling, comatose self on a Friday night in front of TV blazing a week's worth of PVR'ed Oprah, I laughed. "No."
7. Was informed that someone withdrew $21, 355.46. Money go bye bye. Started to feel funny.
8. Nice customer service man ("Arsenio" - good name) says I will get a call from an investigator (sounds so authoritative) on Monday. All accounts frozen but still proceed to have a happy weekend.
9. Talk to peeps on Monday. Hmm. Must close account and open new one. Must get notarized affidavit saying that I am not the perpetrator of this fraud. Must go to bank branch with my notice of assessment from last year. Must do many things that start to make me feel wee bit cranky.
10. 11 days later, I still have no access to money.
11. I get a call from someone at CIBC who would like me to verify some personal information. "Uh, hold it buddy." I explain that I've recently been the victim of fraud and would like to know what the call is regarding before I provide him with information I normally save for my coterie of Nigerian princes. He says, "Yes, ma'am, I can tell you what this call is regarding, but first...what is your date of birth?" SIGH. We go back and forth until I GIVE UP and just give it to him. He saccharinely suggests he could "help" me make a "plan" to pay back my overdraft. Pardon? What part of "I was just the recent victim of fraud" don't you understand? That ain't money I am throwing around on a boat! Someone else has my money and is throwing it around on THEIR boat. I never saw a cent of that, so why don't you go back to your people and compare notes with each other. That would be very nice.
12. While you're at it, please tell the people at the Queen and Spadina CIBC branch that I cannot understand a word that the representative assigned to me is saying. Ever. I'm sure he is nice. But it's hard to have important money meetings several times a week with a man that I cannot understand. No understand makes Hannah go crazy.
13. Tell my assigned risk management customer service rep (USE-LESS!) that I plan on writing about my experience and ask whether I can be put in touch with an investigator who can explain how responding to an email could provide sufficient info for the stealing of many monies. I get a publicist. He's a moron who ignores my calls and emails until 5:30 pm. Every day. Um, 5:30 pm means you are giving me the run-around. I don't like you.
14. Finally speak to a human who can spend 20 minutes on the phone with me without patronizing me and telling me for the millionth time to look at the privacy and security policy on their website (to everyone else - I looked at that as soon as I heard MONEY and STOLEN - I mean, come on! Are you serious?).

I want to give up on banking altogether, even more than the time that I discovered that customer service reps are allowed to hang up on you if you use a swear word, or the time (ok, same time) that an uninformed customer service rep told me I would have bad credit for 7 - 10 years (leading to the bad word) when in fact, he just needed to shut it because he don't know what he's talking about (no bad credit, ever, thank you).

So now what? I still haven't dealt with all the little bits of fall-out, the polluting aspects that I fully expect to turn into acid rain down the road (NSF charge here, forgotten automated payment there, bank rage here, wasted hours on the phone there).

What I learned: I just want to talk to someone at the frickin bank who is human, some one who has some semblance of authenticity, someone who isn't bound by corporate gags, who can answer an honest question, who won't parrot their script without acknowledging that I DID NOT give personal information, someone who knows a thing or two about internet security, someone who can leave a note (a little Post-it, whatever) to the guy who calls around like a collection agency to alert him that in fact my account is FROZEN so I couldn't PAY IT BACK EVEN IF I WANTED (WHICH I DON'T).

I feel sorry for people who are so beat down by their boring job that they have contempt for everyone who calls in (Hi AmEx rep!). But mostly I feel sorry for the person on the other end of the line when I call in and you can't give me one useful answer.

When it comes to how secure you are, friend, as you go about your day online, you are NOT secure and you don't have to be a yokel to be had. Did you know that a fake EXACT COPY of your banking website can pop up unbidden in your browser, waiting patiently for you to step over your millions of other browser windows that are open and think, "Oh yeah, I was going to get to some banking." BAM. Dunzo. Or that Gmail has vulnerabilities that the bad guys are constantly working to exploit? There goes all your personal information. You didn't have to send anyone a thing.

In conclusion, friends, this is what I've learned from this ongoing debacle: Don't open spam. It lets them know you're there. They are literally ph/fishing and you are nibbling. Don't respond to spam, even if it's a pithy, expletive-laden missive you send just for laughs to endorsements for penile-enlargement and sex-friends (this is what normally makes you charming, Denise, but I think we both know why this has to stop). DO have a Mac (no viruses currently in existence for OS X users? Um, can someone give me a hallelujah?). Do take note if you ever try to log in to your online banking but for some reason, after you punch in your password, the program crashes or you don't get in (this one's only good for the investigators AFTER you've been robbed, so meh).

I've also learned that bank publicists are 100% useless because the whole point is keeping their operations opaque while directing you, again, to the useless information on their website. I've learned that fraud investigators won't tell you anything that you very naturally want to know (details, who did this?, how did this happen? what do the police say?). You are powerless when an internet attacker takes all your money. You are stuck with your stupid partner, the bank, that you hate and have to talk to all day every day. You want to leave them but that spiteful move only gets you one more item on your to-do list.


I want a piggy bank.


Blogger Denise said...

It's good to know that what makes me charming is related to penile enlargements.

Let's make a shirt that says "Thieves" with one of those crossed-out circles over it.

8:27 AM  

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